Transgenders’ bid to challenge cross-dressing law improper and premature, apex court told

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Supporters of a group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, August 13, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Supporters of a group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, August 13, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 — The Negri Sembilan government told the Federal Court today that the group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims had used improper channels to file their bid.

In its bid to overturn an appellate court’s landmark ruling on the matter, the state government, represented by prominent lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, also said the challenge had been premature as the group had only been charged with the offence in the Shariah Court and no decision had been delivered yet.

The lawyer argued that the Court of Appeal, and the Seremban High Court before it, had erred when it entertained the transgenders’ application for judicial review as the Federal Constitution does not state they have the jurisdiction to do so.

The Court of Appeal had in November 7 last year ruled that Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992 prohibiting cross-dressing by Muslims was unconstitutional and void. Read more

Shariah courts can’t hold non-Muslims in contempt, MAIWP lawyer reminds Federal Court

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 — A Shariah court cannot fully function with non-Muslim Shariah lawyers as it cannot cite them for contempt, a lawyer representing the Federal Territories Islamic Council (MAIWP) told the Federal Court today.

Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, reminded the five-man bench that the Constitution does not give the Shariah court any jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

“In a faith-based court regulating Islamic affairs and for the benefit of Muslims, only people of that faith can argue in that court,” said Sulaiman.

“If they want to practise, they must subject themselves to the court’s jurisdiction,” he added later.”

MAIWP and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) are appealing a decision by the Court of Appeal which decided that the part in Rule 10 of the Shariah Lawyers Rules 1993, which said that only Muslims can be admitted as Shariah lawyers, exceeds the boundaries of Section 59 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993. Read more

Online abuse of free speech makes new Internet laws necessary, minister says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Last Thursday, Salleh revealed that Putrajaya may soon introduce tighter Internet laws to regulate social media postings as well as compel online news organisations to register their websites. — AFP pic

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 13 — Putrajaya is planning new laws to regulate online media due to alleged misuse of the constitutional right to freedom of expression on the Internet, said newly-appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.

While declining to elaborate on the new legislation that is viewed as Putrajaya reneging on its pledge not to police the Internet, the minister gave his assurance that plan to limit speech online was made with good intentions.

“People are now becoming openly irresponsible with their statements or expressions on the internet and social media, and hiding it under the ‘freedom of expression umbrella’.

“There is a difference between freedom of expression and making slanderous statements or character assassination,” said Salleh.

He explained that while the Federal Constitution guarantees Malaysians the right to free speech and expression, this was not a licence to defame.

Salleh also said that there was no country with absolute freedom of speech. Read more

Two lawsuits today spotlight supremacy of constitutional guarantees vs Islamic law [UPDATED]

Source: The Malay Mail Online

State Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The country’s highest court sits today to hear two separate cases that essentially deal with one fundamental question: will future Malaysians have the right to challenge Shariah enactments that encroach on their constitutional rights regardless of their religious background?

In their appeals to outlaw cross-dressing among Muslim men and to bar non-Muslims from practising as Shariah lawyers, state Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws.

But lawyers and observers have told Malay Mail Online that should Federal Court rule in favour of the Islamic religious bodies, all Malaysians — but especially Muslims — will effectively lose their only recourse for judicial challenge against discriminatory Shariah laws that they argue will see further curbs to their civil liberties. Read more